Riffing: Precisely executed, smart-ass anarchic jazz with roots in bop and classical.
Reference points: Like his former bandmates in the Vienna Art Orchestra, bassist Breinschmid makes the case that the unfettered comic spirit of Spike Jones, Raymond Scott, and Slim and Slam is stronger in Europe than stateside, though other Continental flavors are unmistakable in this collection of duets (with trumpeter and co-vocalist Thomas Gansch) and quartets.
If you like: The aforementioned, gypsy swing, Carla Bley, Willem Breuker, Instant Composers Pool.
Before Obscurity: The Bushflow Tapes
Riffing: Pre-history of the Akron prog-punk pioneers.
Reference points: Contemporaries of such Ohioans as Devo and Pere Ubu — inspired by Zappa, Beefheart et al. — Tin Huey released one heyday LP, 1979's Contents Dislodged During Shipment. Included in this 2009 release: early and/or live versions of Contents tunes, a Stooges cover, the proto-Waitresses (later project of Huey's Chris Butler and guest vocalist Patty Donahue), etc.
If you like: The aforementioned or (just maybe) the next review subject.
Ralph Carney's Serious Jass Project
Riffing: We broke our timely review policy to connect dots to the other post-Huey "star."
Reference points: Sometimes funny, but the emphasis is more on fun for saxophonist Ralph Carney, Tin Huey-ite mainstay who went on to work with Tom Waits, B-52s and Black Keys (Patrick Carney is a nephew). With quartet, overdubs and the odd guest, he swings back to tunes by Ellington, Coleman Hawkins, Buddy Tate, etc. This is the sort of swing that flows into Louis Jordan and on to rock 'n' roll.
If you like: The swing era revisited, Squirrel Nut Zippers.
Sheila Jordan, Harvie S
Riffing: A great jazz duo revisited (and they, too, get their laughs).
Reference points: Jordan, a recent NEA Jazz Masters Award recipient, was steeped in Detroit's bop scene before her short-lived New York career in the '60s and her '80s comeback. Her scatting, vocalese, improv storytelling and melodic loop-de-loops are her own. Even if you have her three studio discs with the supple bassist then known as Harvie Swartz, this live circa 1990 set is essential.
If you like: Betty Carter,
Jeanne Lee (for improv daring, not 'cause they sound like Jordan).
Riffing: Stevie Wonder and Toots Thielemans have company.
Reference points: If you can name a harmonica player who doesn't specialize in blues, it's probably Stevie or (if you're a jazz fan) Toots. Toots, in fact, is here as a guest welcoming Swiss-born Maret to the top echelon of harmonicats. Other guests include Maret's erstwhile employers Cassandra Wilson, Marcus Miller and Raul Midon. A songful, soulful, laidback, but rather glossy debut.
If you like: The aforementioned.